NEC did not agree “rule package” before it was put to Conference

Inside Labour CorbynThe Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) did not agree a rules “package” for conference as was previously believed, as sources from the NEC claim that no decision was taken to submit the NEC’s rule changes as a single item.

Sources claim that at the nine-hour NEC meeting before conference, a range of rule changes were agreed on from various working groups led by NEC members Alice Perry, Ann Black and Tom Watson. These included the controversial proposal to add two NEC members appointed by the Welsh and Scottish Labour leaders. Yet the idea of submitting them as a ‘package’ was supposedly never mentioned.

Instead, the NEC agreed a document that set out sixteen separate rule changes. The document allegedly contained no mention that the rule changes would be voted on as a whole.

The document was then taken to the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) and presented as an agreed NEC document. A member of staff then reportedly stated that it had been agreed that there would only be one vote on the package. The CAC then took this as a given, and thus the first CAC report of conference included the controversial and potentially unprecedented decision that all NEC rule changes would be voted on as one.

Delegates attempted to challenge this from the floor, with general secretaries, National Policy Forum members, Young Labour delegates and members of the NEC moving a reference back on the matter each morning of conference. The Chair declined these requests leading to accusations that party officials were allowing the NEC to be “gerrymandered”.

The only times conference has ever voted on multiple rule changes as a single item has been at the Special Conference for the Collins Review, where three rule changes were voted through, and in previous years when entirely new rulebooks have been adopted.

These revelations cast further light on the shady and underhand way in which decisions are made in the Labour Party, and the importance of both party staff and the CAC. A new CAC is due to be elected in 2017.

  1. I have said this before but it seems necessary to repeat myself. If you cant run a party how can Labour be trusted to run the country.

    • Richard, what you fail to see is that it’s our democracy that is at stake here.

      If you value it you will also be prepared to fight for it.

      • I know what democracy is Mervyn and I value it. Democracy is not threatened because the Labour Party has brought upon itself ridicule threw its own ineptitude. Your self righteous piety only adds to the farce.

        • The Labour Party consists of its members versus some of the PLP who oppose the new direction we are heading in, which side are you on?

          • Neither. There are others outside the Labour party Mervyn, call them ‘the vast majority of voters’. Some were Labour voters at one time, some have never supported your party. What they have in common is the satisfaction that is derived from watching the amazing spectacle of a political party destroying itself from within and in the knowledge that this self immolation is right and proper due to that party’s previous record in government.

      • I am wondering if Jon Lansman, Jamie Schneider, Owen jones and others on the ego left will be helping to fund Jackie Walker’s action against McNicol

    • I bet you repeat yourself a lot, people do hear what you say your statements are just too mundane to warrant answered.

  2. I’m curious, why wasn’t this brought up earlier and why are anonymous sources being cited? There are NEC members who write here, one of which also participates in the comments. Why didn’t they mention this right away? Or is this just a post-hoc attempt to deligitimise the conference decision? Obviously I disagree with the changes to the NEC, but this report comes across as somewhat shady.

    • Indeed. What the hell is going on? The opaque manoeuvrings of right and left leave ordinary members well out of the picture.

      • David,
        There can only be two explanations; incompetence or duplicitous manipulation. If I were a betting man, a quick look at the form would incline towards a heavy punt on the former. What do you think?

        • “incompetence or duplicitous manipulation”

          How about laziness?

          There are many within the CLPD who remained LP members throughout New Labour’s privatisation of the NHS, Blair’s lunatic military interventions, Miliband’s promise of austerity and no doubt many would have remained loyal members if Smith had beaten Jeremy.

          So why on earth should we be surprised if they fail to lift a finger when confronted by yet another of the elite’s stitch-ups? Indeed, many of them probably only feel comfortable when politically marginalised.

          BTW – I am an LP and Momentum member.

        • CM,DP,RM-you seem not to have read the NEC Report set out in Tuesday’s Yellow Pages from CLPD,posted by LeftFutures below.

  3. Peter W usefully draws our attention to the CLPD Conference Yellow pages. What the Yellow pages told us was that

    (1) The CAC Report claimed that the NEC had agreed “a package of rule changes”.

    (2) “Several members” of the NEC objected and said that the NEC had not agreed to one card vote on all 15 rule changes.

    (3) Others on the NEC argued that the procedure was in order just as it was for the Refounding Labour document.

    (4) In response it was pointed out that the Refounding Labour package was a coherent set of proposals unlike the NEC package in question. A “senior NEC member” (why no name and what has seniority got to do with it?) agreed with the response.

    (5) The NEC Chair decided that a decision should not be taken (sounds like a new chair is needed).

    (6) The “senior member” argued that this “bizarre procedure” of taking the voting on another issue as a precedent should not be taken as a precedent. The Chair agreed and asked for the point to be minuted. (Sounds like incredible confusion in Labours ruling committee.)

    What this seems to show is that:

    (a) “some” NEC members had objected to the procedure but we don’t know how many;

    (b) the NEC itself failed to resolve on the issue;

    (c) the NEC Chair agreed that this acceptance of a precedent should not be taken as a precedent.

    All of this leaves C McMackin’s questions pretty much in place – as far as I can see. Why the anonymous sources and why now?

    • DP,your summary of Yellow Pages is inadequate.CAC Report 1 on SUN.said there would only be ONE vote on the some 16 disparate rule changes.This is what was objected to at the NEC on MON..In my view this was unprecedented and had not been agreed by the NEC.It is also not clear if it was properly agreed by the CAC.The Chair was technically correct, because CAC Report 1 had been carried by Confce.and so end of story.Several CLPD EC members had objected at the rostrum to CAC Report 1, but Confce,in its wisdom,ignored them.This was so unsatisfactory,to say the least,that the Chair was spot on in asking for it to be minuted that this will not be regarded as setting a precedent.This is only ”incredible confusion”if you live in an ivory tower and don’t look below the surface at what is really going on.

      • Peter, you say that anyone who disagrees with you suffers from “ivory tower” syndrome and lacks your ability to “look below the surface at what is really going on”. Such assertions neither invite nor require an answer.

        In the meantime, however, all but one of C MacMackin’s questions, and some of mine, remain unanswered.

        • DP,it is only you that I use the ”ivory tower”description about.Most readers of LFs understand that what is going on is a tough Left-Right battle to defend JC and the gains we have made and can make.You seem to think all that is rather demeaning and way below the elevated level on which you operate-a classic description of someone in an ivory tower.

          • It is pity that you can’t drop the personal invective and just deal with issues. Your claim that I find it “demeaning” to deal with the left/right struggle in the LP bears no comparison with my contributions to Left Futures and suggests that you would do better to focus on the issues rather than the psychological state of people who disagree with you.

            And, as I said, all this nonsense, stll doesn’t give us answer to C MacMackin’s points.

          • I am sorry DP,but I don’t see it as invective etc, rather I see it as a reasonable description.You use expressions like ”opaque” and ”incredible confusion”,which means you can’t see that these words are not appropriate and that it is you who seems confused. In fact it is crystal clear what was/is going on ie a Left-Right battle.This fully explains everthing that happened.CMac.also seems confused because his question has no validity-all the Reports,incl.Mon and Tues Yellow Pages give an accurate report of the info.available at that time.Things can only be reported when they become known/clear.If us a crystal ball then reports could be perfect.

          • I am sorry DP,but I don’t see it as invective etc, rather I see it as a reasonable description.You use expressions like ”opaque” and ”incredible confusion”,which means you can’t see that these words are not appropriate and that it is you who seems confused. In fact it is crystal clear what was/is going on ie a Left-Right battle.This fully explains everthing that happened.CMac.also seems confused because his question has no validity-all the Reports,incl.Mon and Tues Yellow Pages give an accurate report of the info.available at that time.Things can only be reported when they become known/clear.If us a crystal ball then reports could be perfect.

          • Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess I’ll wade in here. The report I read on this website did not seem to me to provide the information contained within this article. Perhaps it was not clear at the time that it was important, as you say (although this contradicts your earlier assertion that I wouldn’t have had those questions if I’d read the report–which I had). However, by the time the rule changes were being put forward for a vote at Conference, surely it would have been worth mentioning that the NEC had never agreed to that. And this still does not address why this article cites anonymous sources.

            I don’t deny that a battle is going on between left and right in the party and I know full well that the right will play dirtily. However, that in no way invalidates my questions. I still expect my own side to provide a fair and accurate account of events.

            PS: You are the only person I have ever heard claim that “ivory tower” is not pejorative. Perhaps you don’t intend it as an insult but, given that to most people it has negative connotations, it is not a good phrase to choose in that case.

          • Thanks CMac,the picture developed day by day.You need to read my report,then the reports on Yellow Pages,then the above and all this gives you as complete a picture as poss.By and large I only quote people if I know they would be OK with it.To do otherwise could lead to a ruling that NEC members should not reveal details of NEC meetings and this would mean no proper NEC Reports at all.As pretty much was the case until CLGA members were first elected in 1998.

  4. There must be many younger and new members who are getting fed up with all the Right Wing manoeuvres in Labour to crush democracy; the danger is they may just give up which is probably what the Right wants but they should stay and fight for members democratic power.
    This all stems I believe from us on the Left whilst having the leadership on our side being reactive rather than proactive.
    We should be setting the agenda on Labour Conference reform so members make policy, and reforming the NEC again so grassroots members and trade unionists have the majority for example
    we could double the number of CLP reps to 12-15, and perhaps give some MPs etc. non-voting rights – now there’s a thought.
    It’s not a case of adapting for the Left to survive it is a case of being proactive to win, after all Labour under Jeremy now stands for something.
    We could end austerity, grow the economy out of recession with state-led public investment and more democratic public ownership giving staff an communities a say, build the homes that are desperately needed, and seriously challenge poverty.
    And finally challenge the dominance of financialisation of capital.
    And perhaps we need to start getting policies, ideas, papers on all this out there!
    And why don’t we encourage CLPs etc. to organise 6 monthly public consultation meetings open to the local community (where we offer brief policies) on topics such as Housing, Economy, Education, the NHS, the Environment, Peace & Internationalism – up to the General Election?
    We start the campaign now and set the agenda.
    Just some food for thought.

  5. If NEC did not agree “rule package” before it was put to Conference, it should be challenged in court.
    Both members appointed because of the change should be removed, failing that, N.Ireland should have a Rep!

  6. The sad thing (and I say this as a comrade) is that some of the Left don’t seem to know what they want.
    I want a Labour Party where members have the power.
    I want to end poverty in the UK and every country in the world.
    I want all human beings to have a home and enough to live on and to ideally all work a 20 hour working week so we are all free to enjoy life and our wonderful planet.
    I want to end the threats from climate change by harnessing things like the free energy of the sun- solar power etc; the West could make solar panels for the roofs of the poor worldwide and train local people to service them and install them so we create jobs in the West and Worldwide.
    And throw in a free laptop and through MOOCS (massive open on-line courses) the poor can educate themselves out of poverty.
    In many less developed countries they have searing heat and searing poverty (and according to the New Left Review only 20% of the less developed world is industrialised) so we use one to address the other.
    So come on our leaders on the Left, let’s build on JCs 10 policy statements (one page of bullet points on each is probably all that is needed) and get them out there now to be discussed in communities across the UK and let the Left internationally follow our example then WE set the agenda!
    Time to start being positive and for us all on the Left to be setting the agenda!
    Yours in solidarity!

  7. I really hope the newly elected NEC have the backbone to remove Iain McNichol very soon, although I’ll not hold my breath. In the meantime as well as a pending legal action against him by a member denied a vote in the leadership election on false evidence, Jackie Walker is also crowdfunding a legal action against him due to his apparent breach of data protection laws due to the leaking to the right-wing press of details of her investigation before she was even told herself – – and that could also be a fight on behalf of lots of others that have similarly suffered. I’ve pledged my money for it, I hope others will do the same.

    • Good post Martin – pledged!
      “I hope others will do the same.”
      And to those who wish to obstruct justice;